Tag Archive for: Penang

In total, we spent 28 days in Malaysia and we have visited Kuala Lumpur, Borneo (Kuching), Penang (Georgetown) and Langkawi. Our main purpose was to do a „little travel break“, meaning that we wanted to use some time for ourselves, travel slower and take time to understand what we have already experienced during our world tour till that point. This little break felt great, especially in Kuching where we could enjoy moments of a „normal life“.

What we understood in these 4 weeks in the country is that there is too much to discover and therefore we will definitely need to come back. Here are some of the facts that we learned about Malaysia:

Fact #1 Diversity

In Malaysia, you can find a great diversity of landscapes: beaches, jungle, big city life, small city life, islands, mountains and hills etc. Even if we stayed for a short time we got to experience a bit of everything. We got to know the variety of food on the island of Penang and in Borneo, we explored the jungle wildlife of Bako National Park, we enjoyed some time at the beach and hiking in Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur impressed us with big skyscrapers and well organized public transportation – Malaysia really offers everything.

Fact #2 Religion and ethnic groups

It is not only the way nature defines the diverse landscapes, but also the cities are shaped by their population described as a diversity of nationalities with different cultures and beliefs. In Malaysia, you will find many different ethnic groups. The Malays are the biggest community, practicing Malay culture and customs and following Islam. Also, their language (Malay) is the national language of the country. The second-largest group is the Malaysian Chinese (23%) followed by the Indian community that, with 2 million people (7%), is the smallest of the three main ethnic groups.

English is spoken all over the country as Malaysia has been under the British Empire till 31.August 1957. That day was declared as Independence Day and public holiday (Hari Merdeka).


Fact #3 Palm oil

The next fact is a critical one, but we think it is important to be spoken about. Malaysia is after Indonesia the second largest producer of palm oil. Palm oil comes originally from West Africa, but nowadays 80% is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, which means around 60 million tons of oil per year. The problem with the cheap oil is that is used in many different industries (auto, food, cosmetics, etc.) and the request is permanently increasing, therefore more and more rain forest is burned down, which creates an extremely dangerous threat leading to the extinction of orangutans and other animals.

Fact #4 Petronas Towers

The most known symbol of Malaysia are definitely the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. They are the tallest twin towers in the world, and from 1998 to 2004 they were the highest building in the world. With 451.9m high they also feature the highest 2 store bridge in the world in the 41st and 42nd floor.


Fact #5 Modern country Malaysia

We must say that Malaysia has a similar culture and natural environment to the one in Indonesia, but it is much more modern than we thought at the beginning. Not only in Kuala Lumpur, but also in other cities you can find a very good infrastructure and transportation methods, modern buildings, commercial centers and malls.

There is so much more to say about Malaysia and we really hope that soon we will get another chance to not only visiting Kuala Lumpur while changing flights but also have another longer stop in this modern country.

One of our highlights in Malaysia was the visit of the city George Town on the island of Penang, which covers a surface of 292km² that includes the island part and the state which extends outside the island on the west coast of Malaysia. The population consists of Chinese-Malaysians mainly and a large number of foreigners.

We dedicated our visit to George Town, called also Tanjung in Malay. The city is best known for street art and street food and has been included in the list of world cultural heritage in 2008. We spent 3 nights in town and enjoyed our sightseeing to the fullest. The hostel was close to the historic center so we could explore everything on foot.

By the way, coming from the airport, you can easily reach the city by bus for a cost of 2,70 RM per trip and the bus leaves every 30 minutes. You can take bus 401, 401A and 401E.

Street Food

Basically, you can find street food everywhere in the city. We began our search in Lorong Baru, where the New Lane hawker stalls are located, but we tried many different specialties also in several other places. Another cool place to eat with a huge variety of local and international food is called Red Garden Food Paradise on Lebuh Leith street. Like many other places, this is a tourist hot spot and some dishes might be a bit more expensive than in other places, but still very reasonable.

Some of the most famous dishes served in hawker stalls in George Town are:

  • Char koay teow: noodle (rice noodles) dish that is commonly prepared with stir-fried egg, sprouts and seafood.


  • Asam Laksa: while Laksa can be found in different countries in South East Asia, the Penang Asam Laksa has been awarded in 2011 as number 26 of Worlds 50 most delicious foods by CNN go. Laksa is a noodle soup with seafood or chicken. The origin of the Peranakan cuisine came with the Chinese immigrants. Asam stands for tamarind and fish-based soup. Ingredients like lemongrass, chili, coconut milk and galangal add to the flavor.


  • Curry Mee is typical from Malaysia and Singapore, which is a kind of noodle soup with curry, coconut milk and chili and partly also with tofu, egg, chicken or fish. Sometimes this dish is also called Curry Laksa.



  • Wan Tan Mee, also named Wonton Noodles is an egg noodle dish that is being served with dark soy sauce and barbecue pork.
  • Teochew Chendul is one of the strangest things we’ve ever tried. It is a typical Malaysian dessert that is served with shaved ice, pandan palm flour noodles and coconut milk, together with kidney beans and gula melaka for the sweet taste. It is said that the most famous Teochew Chendul can be found on Penang Road. We honestly tried only one Chendul, so we cannot say if it is better than others. We believe that one thing is not necessarily better than others just because it is mentioned in a guide book, although the long line in front of the stalls spoke for itself.

For those that are not so much into the experimenting mood, but still prefer something sweet, there is also plenty of Pastry available. My favorite was the Coconut Tart. You can also find bites like Kaya Puff or Kaya Kok, a pastry filled with coconut egg jam.

We tried lots of different foods in Penang. Another one of my favorites was Apom Manis, a pancake typically with sweet corn banana and coconut, but other options include chocolate or different delicious ingredients.



As speaking of food we should mention as well the beautiful and cozy coffee shops spread all over the old town. They are really inviting and beautifully designed, convincing you to stop for a coffee every few meters, which for most people would be impossible as honestly, these places were quite pricey. But the good thing is that street food is quite cheap (4-5 RM per dish) and the small portions allow you to try as many dishes as you want.

Street Art

After eating so much, the city gives you the chance to do something for your stuffed belly: a walk in the neighborhood to admire the incredible street art of George Town. Many of the impressive colonial buildings are decorated with the paintings of the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic who was hired in 2012 for the George Town Festival to beautify the city.

I think there is no need to explain them, as we believe that art can be interpreted in many ways. It might be interesting to know that you can download google maps for offline use with the different street art spots. Also, many hostels and hotels offer printed maps with places where you can find these interactive paintings.


Chew Jetty

Another cool thing to experience in George Town is Chew Jetty, a famous tourist spot and a nice ending for a walk in the city center. This village is built with huts that stand in the water on stilts. It is overcrowded with shops and little restaurants. The village is nice to look at and offers a nice view over the harbor. It is said that the Jetties outside this area are more original and worth visiting, but probably it would be also irritating for the people that live there if tourists just come and walk “into their garden”.



Another place we visited was little India, the small quarter spread over Chulia Street, Market Street and Queen Street. In this Indian community, you can find a lot of different Indian food, music, clothes and you can visit the oldest Hindu temple of Penang.

We know that one day we will be back to explore more of Penang but until then we will definitely keep in mind the beautiful memories we have from George Town. See more pictures from George Town here.